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Is Your Art That Smart After All? - Part 3

Mistake #3 – Failing to Incorporate Aspects that Ensure Learner Engagement

At this point, we’ve already discussed the importance of the instructional design process and we talked about why it’s important not to rely too heavily on graphics and other media without a foundation based on solid learning methodologies.

Let’s take a closer look at how to create training that effectively gets the outcomes you desire. First, map out the overall curriculum. Then, create a detailed design document and perhaps a storyboard. The major thing of certain is to ensure the tenets of good instructional design are implemented - for example, an effective learning model. Using an effective learning model is conducive to achieving desired outcomes because it helps you design a structure for learning that:

  • Incorporates a variety of learner styles,

  • Provides learners with various ways to learn, either through discovery or self-direction and in accordance with their prerequisite skills,

  • Enables learners to engage in repetitive activities until mastery of tasks is demonstrated,

  • Gives feedback in a timely manner, and

  • Is challenging enough to hold the learners’ attention and to keep them engaged.

First, you want to make sure that content is organized in a way that makes sense and is relevant to the performance objectives. One of the best ways to gain and ultimately keep a person’s attention is by making sure training is relevant and authentic to the work they do. They need to care about it, and investing time and attention to learning helps them. You may want to explain how learning the new skills will make their job easier or provide some other benefit that is of importance to them.

Next, you’ll want to prepare learners to receive new knowledge. What does this mean? It means it's essential to consider the cognitive and environmental aspects of the training. What do you know about the learners? What are their attitudes toward their jobs and to workplace training in general? Have you considered learning styles or accommodations that may need to be made in order to make learning more accessible? These are things that are discovered in the analysis phase of a training project.

Now, you should ensure learner engagement. You may want to implement aspects of adult learning theory. This is especially important when developing training intended for adults because they have the following unique needs:

  • Adult learners want to know why the training is needed for them to buy into the idea of investing time and attention into it. They need to have a sense of value for learning.

  • Adult learners tend to incorporate their vast array of prior experiences into learning, so make sure to assess them ahead of time. They are more likely to relate to the training by associating aspects of it with their own individual experiences.

  • Training should serve a specific purpose in order to be meaningful. In other words, you should incorporate real-world applications and scenarios that are familiar with the work environment in which the new knowledge and skills will be used.

  • Respect the adult learner’s time by staying focused and on-topic and providing references to resources that can be accessed later.

  • The Adult learner’s concept of “self” is of importance, so be sure to create learning experiences that enable them to have autonomy and be self-directed.

To recap, do not skip the instructional design process. Make sure you use good media but refrain from relying on it to do the heavy work of providing instruction. Finally, as adult learners have unique needs, you’ll want to be sure to implement adult learning theory into your training project. These are just a few things to consider before mistakenly believing you can simply rely on making training look really snazzy to be interesting and engaging.

There are many ways to ensure training is engaging. Some ideas include the use of problem-based activities, scenarios, virtual and/or augmented reality, gamification, role-play, discussion, and case study analysis. Depending on the content and the complexity of the learning objectives, a good and experienced ID will be able to make recommendations during the design phase of the training project.

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